Saturday, 2 March 2013

Day 8 - Bhopal, Delhi & UK

Wow, has it really been 8 days since I started this amazing journey of self discovery and learning about the beautiful people of India!

5am, my day begins, I am now very used to having minimal sleep and starting very early, I am feeling a little extra tired as there was a massive storm in the middle of the night, I heard a lot of it but due to my viewless room I was unable to see a thing. So a quick check around the room, make sure everything is packed and then it's down to the lobby to drop off the bag and grab a bite of food for breakfast, inside I am feeling a sense of loss, I know that I am leaving today and whilst my time here was short the experience was mammoth.
The empty streets of Bhopal early in the morning

It's just a quick breakfast before we head to the coach for our transfer to Bhopal airport, we have a 9:30am flight to Delhi.  As we made our way through the relatively quiet streets of the city we passed lots of modern buildings with the odd slum tucked in gaps here and there, it was such a contrast, the conversation was minimal on my part with others, I was absorbing the city for the last time, I was gathering my thoughts, I was trying to come to terms with the extremes I had seen over the last few days, I was also trying to prepare myself for the UK...  How would it feel to go from the slums of India to the crisp clean city that is London?  I would find out in about 29 hours time (with the time difference).

JetAir Flight Bhopal > Delhi
The flight to Delhi was a pleasant 2.5hours covering 550 miles, time I used to catch up on writing my blog, whilst I had managed to post something everyday I had fallen 2 days behind chronologically.  Our arrival in Delhi was amongst stepped up security, there had been a bomb blast in Hyderabad, killing 15 people just a few days before, whilst it was several hundred miles away from us the capital was understandably on high alert.  With this in mind it was not the best time to test the security....  Something I did!  One of the group mistakenly picked up a bag off the baggage collection belt that did not belong to anyone in our group, this was not discovered until we were loading the bus, therefore I volunteered to walk the bag back to the airport and hand it over to the airline desk...  Simple, WRONG, I got back to the airport, where I was stopped at the entrance by the armed police, I explained what had happened and asked if I could take the bag in, "NO" was the sharp response, "wait there" was the instruction, so I did, who was I to argue this guy was holding a gun...  Time went by so I said can I leave the bad here for someone to collect, "No" was the response again.  An airline representative arrives and I explained again what had happened, his response was "wait here, I'll get someone" I asked if I could leave, the policeman looked at me and said "you stay with the bag".  So I waited and another representative arrived, the same thing happened again so I waited some more, I was very concious that a group of people were waiting for my return to the bus so I said "can I leave and just take the bag with me, I'll leave it in the car part so someone can collect it, I really must get going".  Now looking back that was a bit of a stupid thing to say as the policeman was very clear, "do that and I'll arrest you", so I waited some more...  Finally the third airline rep arrived and I explained again what had happened but this time quickly adding "so here is the bag I must go, okay and thanks" he looked at me and said okay, I quickly walked off, I didn't look back in case the policeman was following, he didn't and I got on to the bus.
Alex (Scottish Water), hanging about
at the WaterAid office in Delhi

Now in Delhi we headed to the WaterAid offices that we had visited the week before, we had dorms available here to take a quick rest if needed, I had decided to stay awake as I wanted to sleep on the flight back to the UK, I figured this would assist me in converting back to UK time.  We had a fair amount of waiting around here as we arrived around 11:30 and we had plans to head out to see the Red Fort around 5pm.  I must confess I was in need of a bit of alone time, I therefore found a secluded area in the sun and just sat for a while, I did a bit more blog writing but mostly I spent time settling with my thoughts.

Around mid afternoon I recorded a brief interview with the WaterAid media crew ready to send out to UK regional news when we returned, the questions I answered stirred up a lot of emotion and I felt my throat tightening, I had seen so much happiness in this country but the one image of the two women telling me that they felt so much pain losing their children haunted me, as soon as the interview was over I went back to my quiet spot and sobbed uncontrollably for 10-15 minutes, after this time Izzy, the WaterAid group leader walked around the corner and asked if I was okay, I said I was just having a moment and that I was glad she arrived, time to kick myself forward and shake it off, Izzy was great throughout the entire trip and I felt a connection there from day one.  Eventually around 3:30pm I rejoined the group, I felt I had the alone time I needed and I wanted to spend a bit more time with this great group of people, people that understood the feelings that I was feeling because they had also see what I had seen.
Red Fort - Delhi

5pm arrived and we were heading on a bus towards Old Delhi and the Red Fort, an historical building built between 1648 and 1658, a structure of true magnificence.  We enjoyed a short time here, an opportunity to switch to sight seeing mode, no more interviews, no stories to hear, no more lessons to be learnt, just time to stand, wander and watch...  After the week we had, this was most welcome.

Well if you can, why not?
See you can do anything you want
even when you're close to 38!
There was a short moment of embarrassment for me, my gorgeous mum had created a photo album for me to take to India, it contained some great family shots and one particular picture of me doing the splits in the air...  Now as soon as this was seen several people asked for me to do it, I held back but on the last day, outside of one India's famous landmarks and after the week we had experienced, it just seemed right to do it, so I did.  Not sure who was most shocked, the onlookers wondering what the hell I was doing or me by the fact I could still do it.

After the short sightseeing visit and tour of the city it was back the office for a light bite for dinner and then to Delhi airport.  Our flight back to the UK was due to leave at 3:30am however we eventually left around 4:30am, I must admint being awake for almost 24hours got the better of me and an hour in to the flight I was fast asleep...  This was great, I woke an hour away from London, the quickest long-haul flight I'd ever done!
Traffic Outside The Red Fort - Delhi

We landed at Heathrow around 7:30am, collected our bags and said a tearful goodbye to one another.  I had made some real friends, people I know I will always stay in touch with, they know who they are so I need not mention all by name.  Following the airport I made my way through the tube system and then on to trains and buses to get back home, I was in a bit of daze, I felt out of place, so much was familiar however everything felt disconnected.  I eventually arrived home around 3pm and enjoyed the comforts that had seemed so far away just 24 hours before.

My trip was over, my brain was full but my body just wanted to sleep... So I respected my body and drifted off with the trip very much in the forefront of my mind.
Enjoying the bus sightseeing in Delhi

My next blog will be an overall reflection of my trip, my highs, my lows and how I now view the one of the biggest journeys of my life.

Street Traders - Dehli

Temple Near The Red Fort - Delhi


  1. Again a wonderful well written Blog so much feeling again I could have been there and really wish I had been sometimes a mums cuddle is good medicine even at 38 .You say you will never forget the people and places you have been and seen I dont think they will ever forget you ,you always leave your mark behind James and you are always remembered because you are so sincere and enthusiastic in whatever you do ....anything you do is always done with such passion and dedication I am so proud of you Well done for managing "The Jam Jam flyer again"you make it look so easy xxxx

  2. James, I have finally managed to sit and read your blog from the very start all the way through to this one. They are brilliantly written and evoke so many memories. You capture the feelings and emotions of our trip so well. It was a real privaledge to have experienced it all with you.